Auntie's Birthday Cake

Sometime over the past year, I was on Pinterest, and I found the perfect cake for Auntie.  See, Auntie loves flags.  Specifically American ones.  I suspect that it is because her birthday is in July.  I have a odd fondness for Valentine's day, and liked it even when I was single and had no particular reason to.  It has always reminded me of my birthday.  So, my personal theory is that you like things associated with holidays near your birthday.  Maybe that has nothing to do with it.  Who knows.
But anyway, that was my latest baking project.  Besides some more cute pinwheels (like the cupcake ones from the 4th of July) and a bunting of scrapbook paper, thread and skewers, it looked like a plain white cake.  
But then came the reveal.   That was the best part.  
This was not your typical cake.  It was an adventure to make.  But it was a challenge and it was fun!
Now, to set the stage.  I think that it is safe to say that Friday was the hottest day of the summer so far.  When I say hottest day so far, I mean that when I checked the weather in the afternoon, the heat index was 113 degrees.  And of course, I had to bake a cake.

And when I say a cake, I really mean three separate types of cake.  Yeah.  That.

The original idea actually came from Betty Crocker.  However, I wasn't sure if a cake without chocolate would be accepted by the chocoholics in the family, so I tweaked it a little.  
I started with a half recipe of white cake, then a half recipe of blue velvet cake, and a full recipe of red velvet cake.  

That was a lot of cake.  Especially for one morning.  And especially when it feels like it must be at least 95 degrees in the kitchen.  But it was fun.
Between the blue and red velvet cakes, I used half an ounce of blue paste food coloring, a couple drops of violet paste food coloring, and two ounces (that's two big bottles) of red food coloring.  I had food coloring up to my elbows.  Literally.
But the colors came out amazingly.  The blue was really bright, but also deep.  It really did turn out perfect for the flag.
I'd never seen a red velvet recipe with two whole ounces of red food coloring.  I usually see them with only one.  But Bakerella doesn't mess around.  And it came out wonderfully bright!
It was super exciting to see the layers flip out of the pans and even leave the parchment paper I lined it with.  The flour-baking-version of cooking spray is pretty amazing.  It was quite the change from the last cake. 
I was really glad I had my stacking cooling racks, since the kitchen was pretty much full of either baking stations or cooling cake, or the heat pouring out of the oven.  
I stacked all the layers with parchment paper in between in the fridge for the night.  And I got out of the kitchen.  I escaped!
Somewhere in there, I had a rice cake with peanut butter and my impromptu rhubarb jelly.  I accidentally added too much sugar and water to rhubarb sauce and ended up with this beautiful stuff! 
And then in the evening, I made another variation on the orzo I made in May.  NES and I stopped at Grafton Village Cheese Company on our way home from our anniversary trip, and brought home some maple smoked cheddar.  It's our favorite cheese, and I decided to try the orzo with it.  I simply replaced the mozzarella with cheddar and left out the basil.  It was pretty exciting.  Mmmmmmm,
Anyway, that was a sidetrack.  NES and I also made a (second) late night trip out for frozen yogurt . . . this time at our favorite ice cream place.  What can I say?  It was sooo hot.  I think half the town was downtown walking around, since at 80-something degrees, it was finally bearable to be outside.  
On Saturday morning, I got up early and made pancakes for NES with the leftover buttermilk from the cakes.  They actually came out pretty well!  Mmmm, blueberry pancakes (for me at least!).
On Saturday came the scary part of the cake: the frosting and cutting part.  
I was really worried about splitting the layers, but it wasn't that scary.  I measured around each red and white layer and put in toothpicks to guide the cutting.  They didn't come out exactly perfect, but it was good enough!  I was really glad I had invested in some cardboard cake circles, since it made so many layers.
I used a cardboard circle (4 1/2 inches in diameter, since I used 9 inch pans) as a template for the centers.  I cut out one red and one white center, and took the center out of the blue layer.  
And then, I had basically a cake leftover.  I had a half red layer, a blue center, and a red and white outer ring.  I didn't know what to do with the leftovers, but then it dawned on me.  I was going to JB and LB's to visit and watch movies with a bunch of friends, and hey, why not make a cake for them too?  Even if it was out of leftovers.  And BMM's cannoli dip took center stage, which was fine.  At least it went to people who would appreciate it, rather than sitting in my freezer forever!

Then came frosting.  
I used the same frosting recipe I used for the 4th of July cupcakes.  I started out making 1 1/2 recipes of frosting.  I don't really know what I was thinking, since I knew I had to frost two cakes.
That was enough to assemble and crumb coat the first cake (this is one cake that REALLY needs a crumb coat -- bright, bright blue and red cake with white frosting?  yeah, that.), and assemble about half the leftover cake.
And then I had to go back to the grocery store.  Oops. 
The hardest part of the frosting (besides the brightly colored cake) was frosting the inside of the blue ring.  That was not easy.  
Then I made a second full recipe of frosting, and was able to finish off the assembly of the leftover cake and just barely barely cover the real cake completely.  Phew.  It was done.
Then, I happened to have some frozen frosting (which conveniently defrosts really fast when you put it outside on a 90 degree plus day!) that covered the leftover cake perfectly.
Although not nearly as big as the first cake, the leftover cake still gave the impression of a flag.  It was pretty cool.  
Then mom, dad, Auntie and MJM came today!  We had a great time wandering on a day with actual comfortable temperatures!  NES and Auntie opened some presents!  This is a bunting that I made Auntie from some "keep calm" sewing fabric she gave me.  That was my first summer project before the scrapbooks!  
Then came cake!  And ice cream from our favorite ice cream place.  Mmmmm.
I must say that the cake came out really well.  I was really happy with it.  And it just reaffirmed the fact that frosting can really cover anything.  The outer rings of both cakes were in pieces by the time they were together.  You'd never be able to tell afterwards.  Frosting is amazing.  
It was really fun!  Yay cake adventures!  Happy Birthday Auntie!  

(Oh, and happy day of birth to the Royal Baby!)

Flag Cake
Adapted from Betty Crocker

White Cake 
Adapted from Sweetapolita

2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla, plus a dash
1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 1/2 cups minus 3 tbsp flour, plus 3 tbsp corn starch)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter, cold and cut into 12 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line one 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix the egg whites, egg, 2 tbsp. of the milk and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the dry ingredients on lowest speed for 30 seconds.

Add the butter slowly, one piece at a time, waiting 10 seconds between pieces, and making sure the butter stays cold.  Mix until the texture is fine and crumbly.

Add the remaining milk, and mix on low speed until moistened.  Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds in between.  

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out.  

Bake 20-30 minutes, starting with 20 minutes and checking every five minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes and flip out of the pan.  Allow to cool completely.  

Blue Velvet Cake
Adapted from Add A

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 oz. royal blue gel paste food color
1 drop violet gel paste food color
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour
1/2 scant tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tbsp. vinegar

(Preheat (or leave the oven on!) the oven to 350 degrees.)

Grease, flour and line one 9 inch cake pan with parchment.

Cream together butter, sugar and egg.

In a very small bowl or cup, mix the cocoa powder and paste food coloring (it really does need to be paste -- you can find it at craft stores or other stores that carry cake decorating supplies).  Add to the mixture, and mix well.

Add the flour, salt, buttermilk and vanilla and mix.

While the mixer is running on low speed, add the baking soda and vinegar alternately.  

Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

After 10 minutes, flip out the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely.

Red Velvet Cake
From Bakerella

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring (2 1 oz. bottles)

(Preheat (or leave the oven on!) the oven to 350 degrees.)

Grease, flour and line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, lightly whisk the eggs, and then add the remaining liquid ingredients, including the food color.  Whisk until blended.

Add all dry ingredients to the bowl of a mixer and stir together on the lowest speed.  

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing as evenly as possible, and tap pans lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.  

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

After 10 minutes, flip out of the pans and allow to cool completely.

Assembling the cake:

Using a 4 1/2 inch circle cut from cardboard or a 4 1/2 inch cookie/biscuit cutter, cut the center out of the blue cake layer.  Set the center aside.

Divide the white cake layer in half, so you have 2 thin layers.  Cut the center out of one of the two layers.  Set the outer ring aside.

Divide the red cake layers into 4 thin layers also.  Cut the center from one of the four layers.  Set the outer ring and one layer aside.

Starting with a full red cake layer, frost the top of the layer.  Add the whole white layer.  Frost.  Add the last whole red layer.  Frost.  

Add the blue ring on top of the red layer and frost around the inside edges.  Add the white disk into the center, frost the top, and add the red disk.  

Frost the whole outside with a thin layer of the frosting, making sure to cover the cake completely.  

Refrigerate until the frosting hardens.  

Frost with another thin layer of frosting, covering the first coat and hopefully leaving a smooth, white, non-crumb-y layer!  



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